Texting 911 Will Soon be an Option in City of San Jose, Unincorporated Santa Clara Co.

People trying to report emergencies in Santa Clara County will soon be able to do so by texting 911 dispatchers instead of calling.

On Wednesday morning, the county Board of Supervisors plans to announce the official text-to-911 launch. The upgrade is part of a joint effort by several local public safety agencies—Sunnyvale and the city of Santa Clara launched similar programs in 2018—and part of a growing national trend to modernize emergency communications.

While jurisdictions that adopt text-to-911 programs generally urge the public to “call if you can, text if you can’t,” there are compelling reasons to opt for texting. For example, texting can help during home invasions, school shootings, domestic violence and countless other situations in which people are afraid of being overheard. The messaging system also improves access for the hearing impaired.

San Jose police dispatchers conducted a soft launch of the texting system on Jan. 1 this year and have so far engaged in more than 500 text-to-911 sessions, according to a just-released memo by San Jose Fire Chief Robert Sapien and San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia. San Jose fire dispatchers had their own soft launch on Jan. 22 and have so far used the technology in three cases.

Because there’s no coordinated nationwide effort to upgrade 911 call centers, the vast majority in the US still can’t field texted requests for service. And many jurisdictions are still struggling to promptly translate texts sent in languages other than English.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates the telecom industry, all wireless carriers are obligated to provide text-to-911 within six months of an emergency call center’s request for the service. To find out if it’s available where you live, visit the FCC’s online landing page on the topic.

4 Comments

  1. What’s the point of texting when there are no 911 Comm. Operators to take the call/text (they are about 25-30 short on staffing right now, staffing level about what it was in 2006 and only about 75%-80% percent of it’s authorized strength while calls are increasing at a massive rate), and San Jose PD has barely any cops to respond to it anyway (street ready cops are still below 1000, for a city of over one million, (despite what Chief “Fast Eddy” says), the response time is still ungodly, even to priority one and two calls, then the cops are hamstrung to do anything once they do get there thanks to cop-hater propagandists who will second guess every split second decision a cop makes, then call them racists and try them in the court of public opinion and convict them in the media, and a City Administration that doesn’t and won’t support its officers, and then when the criminal escapes, there is no one in the detective bureau to do any meaningful follow-up investigation on anything but the most heinous crimes. You are better off texting Chuck Reed, Sam Liccardo, or Al Sharpton.

    San Jose is no longer the safest big city in the U.S. According to CQ Press, the source used since McNamara started touting San Jose as the country’s safest big city, San Jose, ever since Chuck Reed was mayor, has seen crime steadily increase and San Jose’s safety rating has to dropped to #8, behind El Paso, Texas, New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego, to name just a few that are now rated as safer.. So go ahead and text away, and carry a piece of chalk and some crime scene tape in your pocket, it will save the police some time. Just hope the mugger doesn’t take your iPhone while you’re trying to text, along with your wallet and Apple watch.

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